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The Future of Hybrid Events: Virtual Conferences with In-Person Socials

Tech communities love conferences, and it seems later this year, in-person conferences may be possible again. But how should event organizers integrate the remote conferences of 2020 and 2021 with a return to normal? Running a successful hybrid event is not for the faint of heart.

A “traditional” hybrid event takes place in-person at a large conference venue with a live stream available for every presentation, networking session and social gathering. Core challenges with this event model include:

  • Complex technical demands: Multiple cameras, microphones, speakers, screens and a very strong/stable internet connection in every room will be necessary. Plus, to properly include the remote audience, event organizers should consider creating opportunities for people off-site to ask questions to the presenter via a video stream that both the presenter and attendees can interact with.
  • High costs: From venue fees to travel, food and personnel costs; audio and visual (A/V) rentals for every room, speaker and presentation; and virtual event platform expenses — a traditional hybrid event may be cost prohibitive for many communities.

Saying goodbye to the virtual conference experience? Not yet.

Six Feet Up has experience hosting over 40 in-person events per year. With the onset of lockdown, the company quickly met demand for hosting their events online by developing the highly-engaging virtual event platform LoudSwarm by Six Feet Up specifically to meet event needs of the tech community. Six Feet Up believes there is no going back to “just” in-person events.

“Including a virtual audience increases visibility for the event and dramatically expands the reach of speakers, sponsors and participants,” said Gabrielle Hendryx-Parker, Six Feet Up’s CEO. “In a post-pandemic world that is rushing towards automation and digital transformation, the remote experience will be as important — if not more — as the in-person experience.”

For the best hybrid experience, Hendryx-Parker predicts that many event organizers will continue to host events via virtual platforms and incorporate in-person social gatherings after the conference presentations conclude either at one central location or in several locations around the world.

For example, conference presentations could run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on a virtual event platform such as LoudSwarm by Six Feet Up. This portion of the event would be fully remote, and all technical support would be focused on online attendees. Then, at 5:30 p.m. ET, attendees in pre-identified locations (e.g., Miami, Indianapolis, San Francisco, London, Berlin, etc.) would attend in-person socials at a bar, meeting space or co-working venue. While some travel may be required with this hybrid event model, costs would be significantly reduced for both the attendee and the event organizers.

Think about it: Attendees don’t generally talk to the people sitting next to them at a traditional in-person event. In fact, most people sit with and talk to the group they came with (e.g., coworkers, friends, old colleagues, etc.). By keeping the conference presentations virtual, attendees are no longer stuck in their cliques. At a virtual event, it is easier to participate in conversations with people you don’t know — and while conference presentations are happening — via online platforms like Slack.

Just like any event, there are a lot of moving parts to account for, but hosting a successful hybrid event is a complicated task unlike anything most event organizers have tackled before. Event organizers at LoudSwarm by Six Feet Up speculate that virtual events are not going anywhere, so get ahead of the curve and start planning for your next highly engaging, stand-out hybrid event.

Could LoudSwarm by Six Feet Up be a good fit for your upcoming virtual events? Simply drop us a note and/or schedule a demo of LoudSwarm by Six Feet Up’s features and white-glove service.

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